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Johnson Earns Second Career Victory at Dover

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (June 3, 2002)—Jimmie Johnson continued his stellar rookie campaign on Sunday, winning the MBNA Platinum 400 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway for his second career NASCAR Winston Cup Series victory.

“Lowe’s and Chad Knaus (crew chief) give us everything we need,” said Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet. “Hendrick Motorsports gives us everything we need. Right now, it’s clicking.

“I just wish we could bottle it up store it for 100 years and just keep doing this forever. But we’re going to enjoy the wave while it’s here.”

Johnson was the frontrunner for 188 of 400 possible laps, marking the second consecutive event that the 26-year-old has led the most circuits – he also held the lead for the majority of the Coca-Cola Racing Family 600 on May 26 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.

His performance vaults him from fifth to second in the Winston Cup driver standings, just 136 points behind leader Sterling Marlin.

Jeff Gordon, co-owner of the No. 48 Monte Carlo with Rick Hendrick, joined Johnson in victory lane following his own top-10 finish.

“He’s just a talent and a smart driver,” said Gordon, who earned his second victory as a car owner on Sunday. “We’re really thrilled to have him. What a great job they’re doing.

“And you’ve got to give credit to Hendrick Motorsports. Not to take anything away from the No. 48 and the Lowe’s team—they do a great job. They’re getting aggressive with the stuff and making it work. But they came into an organization that really knows how to put top-notch equipment out there. I told Jimmie that we would put him in top-notch equipment and he’s really making it work by getting into victory lane.”

The defending Winston Cup champion drove his No. 24 Dupont Chevrolet to a sixth-place showing, moving him into third in points, just 24 behind his Hendrick Motorsports teammate.

Two-time Winston Cup champion Terry Labonte earned a 15th-place finish after starting near the back of the 43-car field at Dover. Driving the No. 5 Kellogg’s Chevrolet, Labonte qualified just 37th, but made up for it on Sunday with great pit stops and a little luck, managing to stay on the lead lap thanks to timely cautions.

Labonte is currently 16th in the championship points race, one spot ahead of Michael Waltrip and one behind rookie Ryan Newman.

Joe Nemechek’s day ended early at Dover when his No. 25 UAW-Delphi Chevrolet was put into the backstretch wall after contact with Todd Bodine. Team 25 had been running well throughout the first portion of the event, moving to a race-high 12th-place after just 21 laps.

Thankfully, the driver was uninjured, although the No. 25 Monte Carlo suffered extensive fuel cell damage. Nemechek was credited with a 43rd-place finish and remains 38th in driver points.

Hendrick Motorsports and the NASCAR Winston Cup Series head to Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa., this Sunday for the Pocono 500 at 1 p.m. Eastern. The event will be broadcast live on the FOX television network and local MRN Radio affiliates.

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